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To think that mass immigration has introduced a lot of new diseases?

(61 Posts)
dolcelatte Sun 27-Jan-13 15:51:42

This is not an anti-immigration thread, not at all; I believe that the UK is richer and better for its tolerance, openness, and diversity.

However, has anyone noticed that there are far more varieties of 'bugs' around in recent years? Not necessarily serious but just different; for example, me, my husband and DDs have recently been laid low with a bug which involves not only high temperature, coughing etc, but also hands shaking severely, The combination of symptoms just seems to be more varied and sometimes more extreme.

Perhaps it's a sign of age, but I swear that there were far fewer types of bug around in my youth. Basically, you got a cold and it might take up to five days to shake off, but you knew what you were dealing with. Now, the almost random symptoms, eg a bug which resulted in severe headaches, can be a source of worry because it is not known and familiar.

In the past, the colonisation of various countries led to numerous deaths from 'white men's diseases', against which there was no natural immunity. We are now better equipped to treat diseases than in the past, but I do wonder if we are more exposed to a wider variety and/or different strains of bugs and diseases.

Perhaps ultimately we will just all be a lot more resistant to diseases as we develop new antibodies and immunities to these new threats?

weegiemum Mon 28-Jan-13 14:43:47

I've had typhoid despite vax.

But nothing compares to the cheery bug I caught from the woman I sat in front of for 9 hours on the way home from Venezuela. I ended up first with upper chest infection, then double pneumonia, then right-lung dry pleurisy. I missed a MN Christmas meet cos of the pleurisy!! That woman coughed her lungs out for 9 hours. I had throat swabs and a bronchoscopy - all viral - just South American viral, whereas I'm puny Scottish!!

ratspeaker Mon 28-Jan-13 14:35:05

harriet35 where in the name of the wee green man do you get your information from!!!
What basis do you have for immigration causing plague?

ffs google the plague -its easy
For most people the plague is associated with the "black death" that swept through Europe so it's already here
Then you will find out it's a zoonotic disease, that means it comes from animals mostly from their fleas.
Then you will find Yersinia pestis aka Bubonic Plague is treatable by antibiotics

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 14:16:30

RuleBritannia Mon 28-Jan-13 11:15:51
"It's not just our travelling outside the UK, it's people from outside the UK bringing in their countries' endemic diseases like tuberculosis and rickets.

They should all be tested for such conditions before being allowed in. Okay, it will cause delays for them but it will do good in the end. If they have these diseases, why shjould the NHS we pay for them to be cured? "

You can get immigrants in this way but our economy would collapse if we were to insist that every businessman/politican/academic going on conferences/returning tourist had to be detained and tested.

MrsSnow Mon 28-Jan-13 14:15:00

Seriously? You want to blame all immigrants for random winter bugs that appear?

How about we ban all air travel instead? How about we ban anyone ever going on holiday? How about no more imported food? How about we all stay indoors at home and never go outside, ever!

Harriet35 Mon 28-Jan-13 14:14:26

Plague will probably come back soon if mass immigration is not curtailed. sad The people in charge just don't care though. They hate the British people and prefer exotic foreigners that will work harder for less money.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 14:14:16

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 28-Jan-13 13:03:08
"TB is pretty hard to catch. You need prolonged close contact."

Dh's colleague managed to catch it during a brief visit to the (then) USSR. I know others who have caught it under similar circumstances. So yes, coughing on a bus was possibly exaggerated, but you don't have to live in the country for years either.

degutastic Mon 28-Jan-13 13:59:42

The BCG only increases protection against pulmonary TB to around 50%, depending on environmental background and location - it's not cost effective to blanket immunise the entire population.

The rise in incidence is due partly to the rise in HIV/AIDS and partly due to immigration - the incidence of TB is much higher in inner cities within immigrant populations from countries where TB is common. Patient non-compliance to the prolonged antibiotic courses needed to treat TB mean that there are various multi-drug resistant strains around too. It's worth keeping in mind though that while a third of the world's population are infected with TB, only 1 in 10 of those go on to develop the actual disease.

I don't really think that's what the OP is getting at though grin

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 28-Jan-13 13:03:08

TB is pretty hard to catch. You need prolonged close contact.

HotOffTheTropics Mon 28-Jan-13 11:25:00

Er...immigrants have to prove they're TB free incidentally - I had to go through tests and carry certificates that had to be presented at immigration upon arrival. So it's probably your lot.

Muminwestlondon Mon 28-Jan-13 11:21:18

Rickets is caused by vitamin D deficiency, it is not an infectious disease. My uncle had it in the Netherlands in the 1930s. The reason it is seen in some immigrant populations is our lack of sunlight and refined food.

RuleBritannia Mon 28-Jan-13 11:15:51

It's not just our travelling outside the UK, it's people from outside the UK bringing in their countries' endemic diseases like tuberculosis and rickets.

They should all be tested for such conditions before being allowed in. Okay, it will cause delays for them but it will do good in the end. If they have these diseases, why shjould the NHS we pay for them to be cured?

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 11:07:06

Though TB is a long lasting disease, it doesn't long to actually spread it: all that is needed is somebody coughing in a bus. Know of several cases of TB contracted during short visits abroad.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 10:33:28

its the airborne cancer-aids i tell ya

allgoingtoshitnow Mon 28-Jan-13 10:30:20

Many diseases we thought were wiped out locally through immunization have returned to these shores, and in general the sufferers are immigrants coming from third world countries with very poor immunization programs. What better country to come to if you are ill than one with free healthcare?

But the prevalence of colds/bugs - well they spread rapidly, are over quickly, and are helped along by foreign travel as others have said.

ratspeaker Mon 28-Jan-13 09:48:10

Like manicbmc my younger two were not vaccinated as babies nor vaccinated at school. The Heaf test and BCG in secondary school is a thing of the past.
The trouble with something like TB is that it needs long term antibiotic treatment, conventional treatment also involves changing the antibiotics to kill off resistant organisms. In countries without national health or treatment programmes this means they rely on the patient being able to afford the meds.
The rise in TB in the USA due to funding cuts in public health has been documented.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 27-Jan-13 18:45:10

I think some old diseases have had a bit of a come back because many people are coming from countries where there simply isn't the kind of vaccination programmes the UK has. TB for example,has become more common again.

Diseases mutate though and stopping people moving to Britain wouldn't eradicate disease.

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Sun 27-Jan-13 18:07:07

Immigrants only immigrate (if that's a word) once in their lifetime, so are very unlikely to be a significant cause of temporary bugs like the ones you are talking about - the number of people leaving planes at Heathrow who are coming here to live permanently are dwarfed by the numbers visiting for work or pleasure, or UK residents returning from trips overseas.

When it comes to long-term illnesses like TB or HIV then immigration does make a noticeable difference.

Mumsyblouse Sun 27-Jan-13 17:57:27

Not reasonable at all, unless you can point to a time in which our island and other countries were hermetically sealed from one another. The Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 killed 50-100 million people. It spread like wildfire round the entire globe. As long as you have food being freighted around the world, people going on holiday, people travelling to see relatives and so on, a very nasty virus will spread quickly (and won't wait for a wave of immigrants to arrive say in a year's time).

Diseases which are 'slow-growers' like TB may be more likely to be prevalent due to immigration as immigrants from high risk countries may not know they've got it, and putting it in the general population in greater quantities eventually means a few more people get it, but equally people travelling abroad also increases the numbers as well.

Travelling by airplane definitely increases your chances of getting sick as the bugs are circulated in such an effective way.

MrsFionaCharming Sun 27-Jan-13 17:53:15

The current TB vaccination is highly ineffective anyway. Only around 50% of people who receive it become immune. Comapred to in the 90s for most widely used vaccines. It's not economically worthwhile offering such an ineffective vaccine to large numbers of people who are unlikely to contract the illness anyway.

turkeyboots Sun 27-Jan-13 17:47:53

No TB vaccine offered to my DC, 6 and 3. The neighbouring boroughs do it, but ours only did if you were in a high risky group.

The more bugs that meet each other, can lead to new exciting varients. I sat through a lecture on the variations of norovirus recently but none of it stuck in my head except that the new variations are called "escape mutants"!

GrendelsMum Sun 27-Jan-13 17:45:46

An amusing story (amusing in retrospect - not at all amusing at the time). A friend of mine went to India and became very ill shortly after he returned. Whisked into top hospital, great concern from doctors, tests for all manner of strange and exotic diseases, parents told to fly in from their home abroad... Turned out he had mumps and had almost certainly picked it up in the UK.

But from what I remember, I believe the current general medical understanding is that yes, the massive increase in international travel and the speed of it is what's responsible for spreading diseases around the globe.

therugratref Sun 27-Jan-13 17:37:42

I have had Malaria and typhoid, neither were pleasant, both in Africa. I had a typhoid vaccination and was taking antimalarial tablets.
I know Australia had eradicated TB in the population and thus stopped the national vaccination program in the 70's. The arrival of large numbers of people from Vietnam and Cambodia post Vietnam war meant that hospitals started to see active TB again. I had to be vaccinated when I started nursing in the 80's but saw very few cases.
It is still very low in Australia and it has had vast numbers of migrants over the years. Only high risk groups are vaccinated.
I think global travel is much more to blame than immigration

I agree it seems to be air travel.

They don't routinely vaccinate against TB in the U.S.

cory Sun 27-Jan-13 17:19:18

Never had anything particularly nasty. But a colleague of dh went on a work/union related trip to Russia and came back with TB; took her years to recover a modicum of health. A university friend of his contracted hepatitis in India.

I always get nasty colds (which I then pass on to my extended family) when I go to visit my relatives in Sweden: they blame it on the unhealthy British, but I reckon it's the germs in the aircraft.

dolcelatte Sun 27-Jan-13 17:13:51

Some very interesting responses, thanks. I agree that it must stem in part, at least, from people bringing back bugs/diseases from holiday, and the ease of foreign travel.

What's the nastiest/scariest bug you have had?

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